Monday, March 18, 2019

Inspire Me Monday #219: Easy Seasoning with Corned Beef Spice

The picture comes from a home-cured corned beef recipe on the Simply Recipes site. Go there to give it a try if you wish!

It was Saint Patrick's Day yesterday, and I tried my hand at making corned beef. I bought the corned beef brisket, which came with a little spice packet, from my local King Soopers. 
It wasn't exactly a roaring success. My son deemed it "okay but a little tough" on the night it was cooked and served. He didn't have any of it the next day. I tried frying it up with an egg and some cheese toast for my lunch, and it was inedible.
As I am recovering from a psychological downslide last week, I'm being kind to myself and not beating myself up for the failed corned beef. Here is what I learned from the experience.
Corned beef is expensive. We're on a tight budget. The Kroger pre-seasoned pork loins are a much better deal, and sometimes they have decent specials on tilapia. There is a tilapia farm in Southern Colorado, and I don't know why the grocery stores import their tilapia rather than buying it from U.S. fish farms, but that is a subject for another time.
The spice packet that comes with the brisket? 
Those are pickling spices, and they are not expensive.
While my brisket was a failure, the vegetables I cooked with it were fantastic! 
I cooked everything at 300 degrees for one hour per pound on the meat. The brisket was 2.5 pounds, so I cooked it for 2.5 hours. 
If I am cooking the vegetables by themselves I will add vegetable stock to replace the meat juice and add pickling spices to the vegetable stock. Roasting them low and slow works nicely, or I can boost the temperature and cook them alongside the pork loin. 
The pork loins generally cook at 350 for 45 minutes. I find that I need about 15 extra minutes for cut potatoes to be cooked properly, so I put them in first and then put the pork loin in after 15 minutes.
Using Reynolds Wrap to make a tent for the vegetables helps seal in the steam to cook them evenly. Line the bottom of the pan with Reynolds Wrap as well for easier cleanup. I like to make extra potatoes to use for home fries the next day. They go great with a sandwich or bacon and eggs.
I'm going to experiment a bit with using pickling spices and stock with cheap cuts of meat and vegetables for hearty stews in the slow cooker. There is no need for my broke self to spend an arm and a leg on an expensive corned beef brisket when it's the spices that make it special.
Another great thing about pickling spices?
I can use them to make fresh homemade pickles too!


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